The UK's most southern waterway

Stretching from Bath to Reading in Southern England, the Kennet and Avon Canal is renowned as one of the most beautiful locations in the UK for a canal boat holiday. From the moment you step onboard your boat, you're in another world. You'll be surrounded by an abundance of wonderful wildlife and stunning scenery, so there's no choice but to embrace the bliss of it all and relax. There's lots to see and do along our waterway with plenty of canalside pubs and places to visit further afield. The Kennet and Avon Canal is a very special waterway, which has been awarded a protected cruise-way status securing the future of this historic waterway. 

A brief history

Part one

Stretching 87 miles across Southern England, The Kennet and Avon Canal was built as a connecting waterway link between the River Avon and the River Thames. Trade along the canal began in 1801, however the Caen Hill locks weren't finished until 1810, so cargo had to be unloaded from barges, transported by horse drawn railway and then loaded back on to barges further up the canal. From 1810, after a long construction process of 16 years, the Kennet and Avon Canal officially opened.

A brief history

Part two

By 1818 there were around 70 barges operating on the Kennet and Avon Canal. Most of the cargo was either coal or stone. At one point, up to 300,000 tonnes of freight was being transported per year. After many years of operation, the working boats began to fall into decline due to the opening of the Great Western Railway in 1841. During the Second World War, pillboxes were constructed along the canal as a line of defense against a German invasion, many of which can still be seen and visited today.

A brief history

Part three

After the Canal's decline, works began to restore the canal to it's former glory. After many years of improvements and restoration projects the canal was finally completely restored in May 2003. In 2011, the Kennet and Avon Canal was awarded 'cruiseway status', meaning British Waterways are required to keep the canal navigable and maintained for craft. Today the canal is enjoyed by hiring a canal boat, fishing, walking, cycling and many other activities.